Birthday Ahoy!|

Fri 27 Nov 2020 08:15
22:43N 30:14W
Cog245 sog 7ish. The wind has dropped and veered overnight to ENE, calmer now and swell still way under 30metres at 2-3m following us. The "Halfway!" waypoint is 440nm away but at least we're into the final er, 1797 miles to Martinique. Simon Says the forecast is about like this for quite a few days or maybe for the rest of the trip, and we ought make a toast to the wind gods. 7ish knots for the rest of the trip would put us in Martinique 10 days from now on Monday 7th, 15days in total. We'll definitely be there in under 16 days anyway, because that's how long I guessed it would take, and others all guessed it would take longer, BUT I decide when to use the engines, ahem, see?

A boat (or at least a light) popped up on the horizon behind us at around 0330. Jess on watch woke me up. She's quite right to wake me, of course, although there's not much needs doing or really can be done when a boat appears dead astern. Nonetheless, I take full control of the situation and stare at the light behind us in frowning skipperish style for a suitable 3 minutes or so, and check the instruments as if there might be some clever tactic to employ. We could weave around if they were shooting at us, but we're doing lots of that anyway as the boat heading wanders at least 30 degrees over each wave. Anyway, they aren't shooting at us, or even gaining very much, so Jess goes off watch and Chipi took over.

We crossed paths with Salpare yesterday, a 66ft Swan monohull. Salpo, salpare? Cod-Latin-wise it might be something to do with salt and preparing? Romans used salt as payment so maybe it's "to be prepared to spend a lot of money" or "to prepare for salty water" or something along those lines. Anyway, we're assured that they definitely won't be playing ping pong in the saloon. Far too low-lifey I suppose. A Swan 66 probably has a special locker for the footmen's wigs. They're 9th in the ARC fleet, apparently. We left them to their champagne and baccarat and bashed along in our low-rent recon catamaran with chavvy pirate spinnaker.

Aixa on an earlier night watch said she's still not totally confident, especially with waves coming over the boat. Eh? There's no waves coming on the boat at all? Aixa says Oh but yesterday a wave soaked me while I was was sunbathing! Tsk, that wasn't a big wave, that was me chucking a bucket of water at you from upwind in the cockpit. We all sniggered and dropped hints about it, but you didn't shriek or even say anything so neither did anyone else. Didn't you read the blog about my previous transat trips? Perfectly normal to chuck a bucket of water at the first person to do a bit of sunbathing on the forward trampolines. Aixa does that Italian thing of shrieking with laughter and disbelief while being appalled and outraged, all at the same time.

Ruth was Mum yesterday, and made various salads and other things with fresh food, as well as Extremely Burnt Banana Cake. I sawed it down to a much smaller item which we had for dessert with ice cream.

Special day coming up today - it's Ruth's Birthday! She's 27 on the 27th. We've made bunting from all the courtesy flags I can find and decorated the cockpit, very fluttery even now in the dark. Ruth's got lots of Happy Birthday messages, and well done to her Dad (Chris) who collected and forwarded all the messages without giving out the satphone number which would have snowed us in LOADS of messages. It's fine to send quite few messages yet Chris, and she might call later. Voice calls on satellite phone are notoriously awful though - the time delay and "flattening" of the voice at the other end sounds as though they're disinterested in the extreme, so you have to sound ultra-upbeat to make up for the poor effects.

Ruth doesn't know it yet (of course) but we've bought her a joint Birthday present - a er, Mermaid outfit. My idea actually, it was in a shop window in Las Palmas and looked hilarious fun, and the others immediately agreed. I think it's more for children really, but if 60 is the new 40, perhaps 27 is the new 12? It's a proper thing though, lurid coloured lycra with highly realistic massive fin, both-legs tail and matching top so it can be used for actual swimming no problem. I don't think we'll let her try out the mermaid outfit in 3 metre Atlantic swell, but we'll definitely get proper pix in calmer blue waters off Martinique. Or floundering/beached on the forward trampoline for the time being.

Buying the mermaid outfit needed extensive skulduggery in Las Palmas to find Ruth's exact size, and to keep her from finding out about it. But eventually she mentioned that she is *just* at the lower end of women's waist sizes. Oh so what exactly is that then? Exactly? Ruth said it's 26inches or 28 inches after Christmas. I relayed this to Jess and Aixa, and later whilst going ashore from the anchorage Oh Heck I forgot to lock the boat! We'll have to go back, tsk, and Ruth (who liked driving the dinghy) took me all the way back to the boat while the others ashore bought the (hopefully) right size Mermaid outfit, and stashed it with the spare wheel of the rental car to avoid her finding it while packing/unpacking the two tons of groceries. I dunno what colour they bought but there weren't many options. More messages flooding in on the satphone. Pink fizz in the fridge. More later.